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DJI Osmo Action Review

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Ready for Action? DJI certainly is now that it’s got a suite of gimbals, drones and even a robotic build-it-yourself toy that all capture high-impact footage. Its action camera, the aptly named DJI Osmo Action, is a GoPro-a-like cube with two screens, very impressive image stabilization and a lower price than either the GoPro Hero7 Black or Hero8 Black; but can a company new to space really take on GoPro, or should you be holding out for a Hero8 Black instead of picking up a DJI Osmo Actions?

Design

We were reviewing the DJI Osmo Action in a park, when a friend said – ‘Oh cool, a GoPro!” – it gave us that sinking feeling we get when someone calls our Android tablet an iPad, but that’s what you get when a product dominates a category. It also hits the point home – DJI has taken more than a few design cues from GoPro.

The Osmo Action has a similar big-lens rear-screen style and uses very similar housing to the entire Hero7 line, and the same mounting system too. Having said that, the DJI Osmo Action is definitely not a GoPro.

First off, it’s two-tone grey body looks very DJI, especially alongside the Osmo Mobile 3 – they look like a part of the same family. The Actions isn’t matte with a rubbery finish either, instead sporting a solid metal entire body with a textured, grippy band that seamlessly wraps around its frame on its left, right and top-side. On the front is a 1.4-inch screen that gets nice and bright for great outdoor viewability – up to 750 nits, with a pixel density of 300PPI. To the right of it is a giant zoom lens, shielded by a screw-on lens protector.

A USB-C port and a microSD card slot sit under a flap to the proper of the Osmo Actions. At the base is where you’ll find a couple of latches that release the battery, while on the back is the touch display. Power, record and quick switch buttons are dotted around the top and right part, and while they’re a bit spongy, they also deliver decent click-feedback.

Its screen is a quarter of an inch larger than that of the GoPro Heroes at 2.25 inches, and that extra size is welcome, as is its 16:9 aspect ratio, making it feel much, much larger when shooting in that aspect ratio than the 4:3 GoPro display.

Touch sensitivity is on-point and is helped along by an intuitive menu system. The primary display gets just as bright as the front one – 750 nits but it is a bit crisper at 325PPI. We don’t love the Osmo Action’s colour scheme but, ergonomically, it feels solid and the buttons and interaction, in general, come together very well. Its battery is easy to swap out (when it isn’t in a case) and it’s hardier compared to the GoPros, submergible around 11m without waterproof housing as opposed to 10m.

Specifications

Camera: 1/2.3-inch CMOS, 12MP effective
Lens: 145-degree field of view, f/2.8
Front LCD: 1.4-inch, 330ppi
Rear LCD: 2.2-inch touchscreen, 300ppi
Video: 4K (60, 50, 48, 30, 25, 24fps); 2.7K; Full HD and HD
Images: Raw (DNG) and JPEG
Battery: 1300mAh (charging time 88 mins)
Dimensions: 65 x 42 x 35mm
Weight: 134g

Battery Life

Screen-on time and Wi-Fi connections to a phone will be the biggest drains to the Osmo Action’s 1300mAh battery. You’ll be able to get through a full day out grabbing 30-second to two-minute clips shot at regular intervals, but if you’re planning on getting long bouts of footage, pack a power bank or a spare battery. The Osmo Action has two microphones, which struggle with wind and loud noise. You can fire upwind noise reduction in the settings, and this takes the edge off, but for anything beyond casual vlogging and reference audio, you’ll want to invest in a USB-C microphone adapter from DJI’s online store or an external audio recorder. On the subject of accessories, given the fact the Actions uses the same mounting system as GoPros, its housing will work with GoPro grips and mounts, but its different sized body means it won’t support GoPro housings. That said, DJI’s store gives you a range of optional extras, from screw-on ND filters, waterproof casing, additional batteries and charging kits, as well as a range of grips and mounts.

Verdict

DJI has managed to create an action cam that stacks up to the best out there when it comes to stabilization and picture quality. Despite being the first of its line, the Osmo Action is an ideal GoPro Hero7 Black alternative for vloggers and self shooters.

While video captured on GoPros is a touch flatter, lending itself to being edited – so movie professionals could well prefer it, the Action’s footage is a bit more Instagram ready, and accessible from a price point of view. It isn’t perfect – there are live see lag issues at max resolution and the app experience was nothing short of terrible, but if you’re looking for an actions cam that’s going to give you maximum bang for the buck, the Osmo Action delivers.

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